Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cottonwood Arizona

Besides being the geographic hub of the Northern Arizona wine scene (I suppose Sedona is the cosmic hub), Cottonwood is a very funky, mostly run down mining and commercial town that has the authentic character of old Arizona. It hasn't exploded yet with California money and now that there isn't much of that around, hopefully it never will. Still the locals are loyally proud of the downtown and they have every right to their pride. Joan and I trekked up there to deliver some wines to Pinon Bistro (1075 Highway 260, 928.649.0234) and met Donna Fulton and Terri Clements. They introduced themselves as refugees from the Connecticut business world and they have a good thing going at their restaurant. It is small, as in seven tables. Terri does all the cooking and Donna runs the front. The place fills up each night, mostly with locals and does not rely on much more than word of mouth - for example no web site. The cuisine is inventive and local, with French country inn style attention to ingredients, preparation and presentation. An added plus is a nice selection of Arizona wines. Yowzer, gotta go back. If you are interested in their 10th Annual Valentines Day Special Celebration and want to see what they pared with our Malvasia Passito and Yummy Zin, give them a call.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Holy Deluge Batman

Fantastic Storm, which Joan documents with lovely pictures. In total 3.5 inches of precipitation fell, the last bit of which was the frozen white stuff. Happy vines. Happy doggies. Happy vineyard farmer.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Winter Wonderland!

All-right, I had trouble choosing which photos to put up so you are getting seven of them. It was a beautiful morning in Sonoita. The dogs were so excited even old Emma was running around the vineyard. It's a great way to experience winter. By the afternoon the sun was shining brightly through fluffy white clouds and the only snow to be seen was up in the mountains. Being the tender of the vines, as I walked around the vineyard I imagined how happy the vines were with the snow slowly melting and dipping the water farther and farther down among the roots. Nice storm. I hope we get more.

Friday, January 22, 2010


It was a cold, stormy day at the winery. I ventured out of the tasting room for a few minutes to snap these photos. More storm predicted for tomorrow if you want to come on down and take your own pictures.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sangiovese - In the bottle

Sunday was a banner day as Dave, Casey, Amber, Michelle and Jason took their stations at the bottling line. It's amazing to me how people tend to settle into their natural niche in the bottling line. Someone who is all thumbs at the corker is a whiz with the filler. The stress of keeping up the pace and paying attention to accuracy with the labeler is a stimulating challenge to another. Wrong stations and the pace is 5-8 cases an hour. Everyone getting their groove on - 20+ cases per hour. What stood before us was about 1300 liters of 2008 Sangiovese from Sweet Sunrise Vineyard. In short order it was in the bottle, corked, capsuled, labeled, boxed and stacked. Now it needs a few months to rest and recover from bottle shock - honest to goodness bottle shock, not the phony baloney type that mysteriously turns white wine brown for a few days. Out of the filler spigot it tasted absolutely delicious and totally reminiscent of the award winning 2007 version.

Newsweek Budget Travel

A few months back while disgorging the Nebbiolo Rose, a couple of journalists dropped in to "do a story". "Yah", I thought. But as the time wore on and I learned that Mario Lopez-Cordero had grown up in Nogales, now lived in NYC and loved to return to his homeland, it became clear this was not your ordinary "do a story" come on. We chatted for a long time while I demonstrated how I amused myself launching the frozen plugs of yeasty, Nebbiolo on to the well house roof. He waxed lyrical about this part of the world, which although colored by the eyes of someone who lives in NYC, was actually true. A couple weeks later they were followed by another journalist and her photographer husband and what do you know the current issue of Newsweek Budget Travel has a very informative and soulful article on this part of the Sonoran Desert and the wineries. If you manage to view the slide show you'll also see a beautiful picture of the financial wizard and farmer of Canelo Hills.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Arizona Wine - Good Food - FnB Scottsdale

Last week Joan and I made a trip to the northern part of the state to drop off some wine and visit the wineries (more on that). On the way back home we met up with a dear friend in Scottsdale and dined at FnB. I've mentioned this eating hot spot in earlier blogs. No only is it the only restaurant in the whole world to have our Sparkling Chardonnay, but its' creator Pavle Milic has crafted a wine list entirely comprised of Arizona Wines. Actually he does have a Plan B wine list of a few selections from elsewhere just in case he runs into a customer who just won't hear of it. The food is fantastic. Sadly I only had my cell phone, so the only picture that came out half way decent is the one of Joan as we await our meal. The shots of the shaved fennel salad with black radish and blood red oranges didn't come out, nor did the pictures of the Japanese squash soup, brazed leek and fresh mozarella salad, baked trout and sweet squash ravioli. Everything exquisite, beautifully prepared, startling fresh and a great accompaniment to Arizona made wine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Join us February 6, 2010, for Wine and Art

Saturday, February 6 will be a day of celebration at Canelo Hills: the release of our '08 red wines, the opening of our desert wildlife art installation by Sonoita-Patagonia artist Sylvia Saenz and a one day show of her paintings, sculpture, and jewelry for you to admire and purchase.

During normal tasting room hours (11:00-4:00) we'll be serving the new wines, including Sunrise - a blend of Nebbiolo and Syrah, the 2008 Syrah from Sweet Sunrise Vineyard, our port-style Yummy Zin - which is only available in very limited quantities, and an early and very limited release of the 2008 Estate Syrah. You'll still be able to try our award-winning '07 wines too.

There's no admission and wine tasting will be the usual $5/person.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

FnB Reprise

Thanks to Todd and Kelly Bostock for this link that connects to a Phoenix TV Channel 10 news story on the Scottsdale restaurant FnB that has a totally Arizona wine list. The food is exciting as well. We'll give a report of the visit we plan next week.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cruel Months

Winter is tough on the plants and the vineyard and the past week of low temperatures in the early 20's seems to have taken a toll on the irrigation. When Joan and I checked in this past weekend, there was dry riverbed in one of the Cabernet Sauvignon rows. The water was long gone but the evidence of a serious flow was unmistakeable. It seems the freeze-thaw cycle had cracked one of the irrigation submains and a gusher ran for a few hours during the irrigation cycle. The pipe was more than cracked really, the whole thing was splintered to smithereens. Fortunately a little PVC pipe glue and a few parts did the fix and thankfully the day had warmed up to the upper 60's. Irrigate in the winter? you might ask. Well yes. The plants though dormant need some moisture to prevent them from completely drying up and the el Niña that was supposed to bring a wet winter has not materialized. Ordinarily the winter rains will supply most if not all of the water the plants need this time of year.